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Wednesday Afternoon Session - page 11 / 67





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job in protecting wild lands.  The National Park Service, the Indian Service; the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service; and the Bureau of Reclamation in the Interior Department all have large areas of public land to protect.  The Soil Conservation Service and the TVA both cooperate in protection work.  Even the Army and the Navy have a very sizable forest fire protection job on military reservations.

In 43 States organized protection on non-Federal forest land is a primary job of the State forestry department.  Under the Clark-McNary law a total of $23,000,000 is budgeted for expenditure this year on cooperative protection for State and privately owned forest lands.  Of this sum, the States are contributing 55 percent, the Federal Government 35 percent, the private landowner 10 percent.

Around 175,000 forest fires occur each year in the United States, of which only 10 percent are caused by lightning, leaving 90 percent caused by man and, therefore, preventable.  The human hazard has more than doubled since the war.  People are vacation hungry, and they do constitute a fire risk when they go out in the woods.

Perhaps that applies to some of us, too, you know.  We are making impressive progress in the methods of fighting growing forest fires, but it will be far better and cheaper in the long run if we can cut down the huge waste and destruction from careless American habits by checking man-caused forest fires at their source.

This calls for an aggressive, continuing campaign of education.  We have under way a Nationwide cooperative forest fire prevention campaign in which the American Red Cross, the Advertising Council, Inc., and many organizations and individuals are cooperating with Federal and State foresters.  There are also effective “Keep America Green” programs under way in 20 States.  Such education programs need wider sponsorship and need to reach more segments of the American public.

We need more work in the schools.  We need to instruct farmers in the care of burning old fields and brush, woods workers and sportsmen on fire safety in the woods.  We need to teach millions of smokers how to handle their cigarettes and matches like responsible, grown-up individuals.   Our educational work must be coupled, and is, with law enforcement and with State restrictions, excluding the public from highly hazardous areas during periods of unusual fire danger.  In general, the State fire laws are reasonably adequate, but in many States enforcement is weak, particularly in the case of laws applying to incendiaries.

Equally important with fire prevention and law enforcement is strengthening of the forces and facilities to combat fires that do start.  Organized protection should be extended as quickly as possible to the 120,000,000 acres not now so protected.  Existing Federal, State, and private forest fire protection agencies, local, town, and municipal fire departments, should be better coordinated.

A logical development is the expansion of forest protection into this whole field of rural fire control.  In some places this has already been done.  There should be continued study and development of forest firefighting equipment, studies of fire weather, research in fire prevention, and in suppression techniques.

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